2022 has been a year of retail recovery with the COVID restrictions being eased (while keeping in mind the safety of your families and employees should still be a top priority when serving the public). The Ford government has been handed another four year majority and the OCSA has always had a great working relationship with the entire PC party and all MPP’s.
We will need convenience store operators throughout the province
to contact their local MPP’s to build a relationship and ask for support for the areas where government can help our channel. We should also take great pride in being recognized as the most responsible channel at selling age restricted products and look forward to the day we can expand this responsibility to the future sale of beverage alcohol in every community in Ontario.
Tobacco/Vape – This is still our largest daily sales business and we have been fortunate to not see any tobacco tax increase from the Ontario government recognizing that this will encourage the growth of the illicit trade (contraband) market. The OCSA continues to remind the government that contraband still sits at the 30-35% untaxed sales market and there is a need to work with various
stakeholders to find longer term solutions to this continued tax avoidance market. Let’s never assume that government understands this issue and continue to remind them of the damage this is doing to family run businesses in Ontario.
Lottery – 2022 has been a break out year for retailers working with OLG on incremental commissions programs that have given lottery retailers and additional $21 million in commissions for upselling new games or targeted promotions throughout
Beverage Alcohol – We continue to work with the Ministry of Finance looking to the future of our channel and members. It has been quite disappointing that the promise of 4 years ago to allow us to sell beer/wine has yet to come to fruition due to the three major beer companies holding the government to the MFA agreement by the last Liberal government. One interesting highlight is we have seen a major convenience store chain given the rights to serve beverage
alcohol in store with the consumption of food within a designated area. This demonstrates the file continues to inch along and next summer will be a defining moment that we must all remind MPP’s. By the summer of 2023 Premier Ford must declare if the Ontario government will not be renewing the MFA agreement with the Beer Stores to have the exclusive rights to beer retailing and this will be our opportunity to move the file forward to allow convenience stores to sell beer/wine and
PrePay at the Pumps - As drive-offs continue to soar due to the higher price of gas, we are reminding the government that this Bill was passed prior to the last election and needs to be revived. This will help to ensure the safety of customer and employees as well as the enormous business losses family run gas stations are seeing. We are starting to see many sites demanding prepay for gas at outside pumps or after dark to minimize the issue, and we would encourage
convenience store owners to voluntarily start this program until such time as the government joins BC and Alberta to implement a prepay program. This could be easily resolved if the three big gas companies initiated a prepay program and everyone could follow. The OCSA will continue to encourage the government to enact this simple law that would eliminate any gas thefts and reduce the use of police services focused on this issue throughout Ontario.
Credit Card Fees – We
recognized the issues around costs to OCSA members and we have now signed on with Moneris, a new program that will assist independent convenience stores throughout Ontario with the lowest rates through the OCSA. One of our independent Board members reviewed his Moneris program and was pleased to get reduced rates as a member of the OCSA.
LCBO Agency Stores – The OCSA has been conducting a survey to find common issues created by the LCBO business model to help encourage
a solid open working relationship which would lead to better outcomes and may even expand the program in many rural underserved markets. The OCSA is committed to helping LCBO agency stores who sign on to allow us to represent their collective interests going forward.
Convenience U - We were pleased to see the return of this event in September as an in-person event where retailers from all over Ontario are able to network with one another and celebrate innovation after a
two year void. The OCSA is committed to the Spring show on March 7th & 8th at the International Center and look forward to seeing a large retailer turnout.
Convenience Week - We should all take great pride that the Ontario government recognizes the entire convenience store business during the last week of August where we see politicians visiting our stores in every community. The OCSA is proud to be the driving force behind this initiative. Let's all start
planning for August 2023 by inviting your local MPP to visit your family and store in your community.